Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Your cover's blown

A couple tracks i keep pumping on my winamp playlist:

Belle and Sebastian - Your Cover's Blown
A recent single of theirs. As funky as french whiteboys get. Belle and Sebastian are always described as "precious" and that's very true. From the over-enunciation of singer Stuart Murdoch to the dinky melodies, it's all very nice and safe, and i actually really like it. The instrumentation of their songs is always varied thanks to their 7 members.

The Sains - I'm Stranded
You really must download this one, if at least only to hear the uncanny similarity to the Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop". The interesting thing is, this song actually came out first, i believe by mere weeks, and the Saints are Australian. I really want to find more by this band. They do the early punk-rock thing so well.

Pete Doherty - Bilo Song
I'm not sure if this is one of his recordings he made on a radio show while on the lam from the Libertines, but it's just Pete and his guitar. The demo quality recording adds to the intimacy of Pete's voice and scratchy guitar playing. The melody is unstructured but high in tunefulness.

Run DMC - Run's House
Easily one of my all-time favourite Car songs. Just a great "pump-up" song. I love the scratching of 'say what?' between "Who's house?" and "Run's House!". The old school drum sound is great too.

Bon Jovi - Bad Medicine
I really hate Bon Jovi and of course that means 80% of Saskatoon love them (i think this may be the subject of a future post), but I can't help but love the big dumb classic "Bad Medicine". It's got all the 80s arena rock requirements- big reverby drums, shouted choruses, shitty synths. I love it! Anyone who's seen "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" can't help but appreciate it's use in that movie.

Pharrel - Frontin'
Time to talk about how much I love Pharrell again. Well i'll just say that he takes the simplest instrumental and lets his voice go to work. His falsetto is crazy-good and the man has a fantastic ear for harmonies. I wish i had this on cd, but that means getting the neptunes remix disc, which i'm not sure i want. I think Jay-Z's verse is unecessary though.

David Cross - any of his stand up
After having fell in love with him and Odenkirk's comedy stylings thanks to Mr. Show, I checked his standup out too. Great stuff, similar vein as Mr. Show. Very dark at times, but hilarious. Plus, it deviates from the usual observational standup routines. Cross has more of a story-telling/free-form style.


"Me and my nuts are a real def 3/ they don't do nuthin' but hang with me" - The Fat Boys

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Hong Kong Fury!

I've been thinking about compiling a list of the year's best songs or albums. I'll do this a little closer to the end of the year, but in my thinking on the subject, a song that i've been listening to alot lately deserves mention right now.

The Datsuns' new album "Outta sight/Outta mind" features the great cut 'Hong Kong Fury". A guitar lick that would make Tom Morello proud opens things up. Cymbals crash non-stop and Dolph De Datsun's voice wails against the chanted chorus of 'hong kong fury'. Toss in a little wah solo and you've got something pretty close to a perfect rock song. The Datsuns did the same thing on their last album with "MF from Hell" which I immediately gravitated to. I guess i just have a thing for crushing rock riffs. There is no substitute for music that is filled with that rock n roll energy.

When i get better aquainted with this album i'll review it on here. The overly-negative review critics have given it have made me want to like this album, but i'll do my best to not let that influence my review.

"She may be crazy she may not be well/ she made me feel like, like a mother fucker from hell!" - The Datsuns

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What you waiting for?

After football tonight i'll hop down to a and b and pick up the debut album, "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" by Gwen Stefani.
I've long had a crush on this girl, she's sexy, sassy, has a cool voice, etc. The album has a fantastic lineup of producers and collaborators, including the always brilliant Andre from 'Kast, and my personal fave Pharrell Williams.

I'm leaving for Hamilton tomorrow morn (as my football team has made the Vanier Cup for the national championship) and i'm looking for a couple cds to take with me.
I'm thinking about getting the new datsuns album. It got panned by critics (for reasons i think i'll go into on an upcoming post) but i've had it on my comp for a week or so and am digging it.
Also, i'll check out how much ben kweller's second album is going for...and something else...which i can't seem to remember right now.

Alright, well if you have any rock n roll in your bones download these 2 essential Datsuns tracks and i'll get to my lovely gwen later.

"MF from Hell"
"Hong Kong Fury"

"She said i know what it's like to be dead" - John Lennon

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I want a girl to act nice and gentle to me

ben kweller - family tree
black keys - all hands against his own
black keys - act nice and gentle to me

These 3 songs i feel reccomending right now. Ben Kweller is sort of like Elliot Smith with some Shins and a healthy dose of Todd Rundgren. He's got a good pop-rock voice, and he writes good poppy melodies.

The Black Keys continue to impress me. "All Hands Against His Own" features yet another great riff as well as fantastic transitions from Dan Auerbach's full voice to falsetto. "Act Nice and Gentle To Me" is a cover of the Kinks song. Ray Davies is masterful at writing those familiar sounding tunes that manages to sound nostalgic without too much schmaltz. The only song-writer better at nostalgia would be Paul McCartney. The Black Keys version is splendid and stands up better than the original.

Kinda got me thinking. I wouldn't mind a girl who'd act nice and gentle to me.

"Cause I'm Kurtis Blow/ and I want you to know/ that these are the breaks!" - Kurtis Blow

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Looking back at Elephant

So in the summer of 2003 i used to write these reviews for Amazon.com. I tried to sound sort of consumer oriented, as i felt it was helpful for the site, and people rated the usefulness of your reviews. Anyway, I was checking these reviews out today and one such review i wrote got my interest: the White Stripes' "Elephant". It was critically acclaimed like a mother fucker when it came out last year and loved by many as well. Sam and I have argued over this album. He agrees with the hype that it's a great album, whereas I say it's merely good. I still say De Stijl is my favourite Stripes album. Jack's songs are better on that one i think, if a little rougher. Anyway, here's what i had to say on June 12, 2003.

"So Close to being So Good".
Elephant opens with the driving riff of 'Seven Nation Army', a track that's sure to get you nodding your head. The rest of the album doesn't have the same riff-based formula as the opening track. In fact it tends to meander a bit. Songs like 'Black Math', 'I Just don't know what to do with myself' and 'i want to be the boy to warm your mother's heart' really showcase Jack White's talent. His voice is that of a born rock and roll singer's; sometimes sounding like Robert Plant, sometimes like Freddie Mercury, other times Bono. His guitar playing is strong and Meg's drumming is solid, but the album lets itself down in consistency. 'In the Cold, Cold, Night' is cute, but doesn't warrant repeated listens, as does 'Well It's True...'.
Elephant shows that the White Stripes are still capable of putting some strong material together but have yet to make a fantastic album.

I still agree with what i wrote then. There are a whole bunch of songs in the latter half that I really don't care too much about. "Hardest Button to Button" was a weak second single, especially when a geninely great song like "Black Math" would have done much better. It is a good album, but it's not a classic. I think people will remember 7 nation army, but what else? Oh yeah, and Meg White's drumming is not solid. She plain sucks.

"Can't tell you how proud i am/ i'm writing down things that i can't understand" - Jack White

This next song is the first song off of our new album...

"Check Your Head" - Beastie Boys (1992)

There are 3 styles the Beasties utilize: their silly rhyme side, their funky jamming side, and their serious message side. Over their 6 albums the balance has varied. Liscensed to Ill was all silly rhymes, while To the 5 Boroughs was oveloaded with serious messages. What makes Check Your Head the best Beastie Boys album, and one of the best albums ever, is that it's the best blend of the 3 sides. You've got the fun rhyming on "So Watcha Want" and "FInger Lickin' Good", not to mention the fantastic "Professor Booty", (Professor, what's another name for Pirate Treasure?). The boys pick up their instruments and really lay it town on tracks like "POW" and "Groove Holmes". These instrumental forays are not merely gimmicks: "oh the rappers are playing instruments". The Beasties can really play, and with Money Mark on the keys, they are a formidable funk combo. As for the seriousness, tracks like "Stand Together" and "Something's Got to Give" bear the Beastie's positive agenda.
Paul's Boutique is often cited as the top Beastie's album, and yes, it was a huge step up from the party-boy funtimes of Liscensed to ill. But the Beasties were still finding their way. Check Your Head has better use of samples, better samples, funnier rhymes, sillier skits (the description of an upscale party on "Blue Nun" is priceless), and is overall tighter, without losing any of the fun. 20 tracks, 53 minutes, a fantastic blend that's Finger Lickin' Good.

I know, that was a lame finish

Ewan Classic Albums -
Beastie Boys - Check Your Head (1992)
Supergrass - Life On Other Planets (2002)
the Police - Outlandos d'Amour (1978)
the Kings of Leon - Youth and Young Manhood (2003).

"Keyboard Money Mark you know he ain't havin' it/ just give him some wood and he'll build you a cabinet" - MCA

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Making the White Stripes look like little kids...

The Black Keys are my current favourite band. A 2 man team, guitar and drums, who burn blues-rock riffs with the best of them. I've always had a love of this music, from my early love of cream and the hendrix experience, and i've found this evident in my own song-writing. I could prattle on about the primal longings of the blues, but who hasn't read that in countless magazine articles written by nerdy university educated white geeks. Bottom line is, the Black Keys play fat, distorted riffs, with slamming drum rythms, and their singer has an outstanding husky blues voice. Their sound is vastly more full than the Stripes, not to diss the stripes, but I'll always favour tight riffs, howling solos and raucous drumming over arty pretensions and barely-competent drumming.

Check these tracks if you're interested:
Set You Free (outstanding rock tune)
Thickfreakness (very heavy riff)
The Breaks (Funky/hip hop beat!)

"I'm gonna set you free" - Black Keys

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Razorlight

Caught these guys on the Wedge the other night (just a quick word on the wedge: easily one of the best shows on t.v., probably the best show on much music, actually highlighting good music). They showed a clip of their "Golden Touch" video before cutting to the break. I heard the staccato guitars and saw the long hair that is so common amongst all these stroke wannabes and thought, "let's check these guys out...could be good...could be terrible". When the video finally came on, i realised they were in fact good, really good. One thing that sets them apart from the countless other indie bands of their style is their lead singer. Yeah he has long hair and very prominent cheek bones, but the guy can sing too. That's not something alot of bands of this genre do too well.
So, you'll probably hear more on these guys soon, i'll get their album this fri when i get paid.

"You could have it all if you wanted" - Razorlight

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I just wanna tape you

"Tape You" - N.E.R.D. from "In Search Of..." (2002)
Hands down the best song ever written about taping your girlfriend having sex. This song is filled with stupid lyrics like "relax girl, sip some of my slurpee, you look fly to me...". I know what you're thinking- this is supposed to be the greatest songs. Well this is one of the best songs i've heard.
Nerd's genius lie in the music. A danceable rythm section lays the groundwork for synths and Pharrell's voice to run rampant. The synths weave a catchy little figure while Pharrell croons "I just wanna tape you all night...". Dance grooves are meshed seamlessly with a cool atmosphere, the epitome of Nerd's work.
"Tape You", like much of Nerd's work, owes much to the great Genius of Stevie Wonder, combining all sort of energies, rythms and melodies as well as utilising the most poorly used instrument of all time- the synthesiser. Stevie knew how to use it, and he used it brilliantly, as do Chad and Pharrell.

"Babe, for what i'm 'bout to ask don't be ashamed..."

Ewan Classic Songs:
N.E.R.D. - Tape You
Nico - These Days
Paul McCartney - Maybe I'm Amazed

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jo-leeeeeene!

Gotta add one more song to the list i just made: the White Stripes' cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene". Featuring fine tortured vocals by Jack White, this song has a cool live video. Check it out at www.nme.com.
Watching videos online used to be a really easy thing, thanks to rollingstone.com, but now the assholes have made everything available at a cost. New music Express is probably the best music site on the web for news and videos, with the only drawback being its lack of hip hop coverage. Their stuff is free and they always have lots of cool stuff on the Kings of Leon, Strokes, etc.
Anway, check out Jolene if you like the stripes.

"Please don't take my man" - Jack White

A few songs that get stuck in my head...

Cream - Badge
Hadn't heard this one till i downloaded it recently. From the great power trio's goodbye album and features the fine vocal talent of Jack Bruce. I always thought he was the best part of Cream, and this proves it, with fine bass lines and his brilliant vocals. This song has a nice minor flavour to it.

Slick Rick - Children's Story
The brilliant storytelling talent of Slick Rick is evident on this track. The song tells the downward spiral of a youth turning to crime. The real strength of the track rests on Rick's delivery, done in his trademark almost english accent.

Ms. Dynamite - Dy-Na-Mite-Tee
Great full sound on this R and B track from Ms. Dynamite. Her vocals are sassy and bubbly, just fantastic.

The Futureheads - A to B
More 'angular' pop rock from the British Isles. Even more nerdy than Franz Ferdinand, and rivaling Hot Hot Heats spazzy-ness, this is very solid stuff. Kind of nice to hear harmonies in music like this.

Le Tigre - Deceptacon
New-wave/punk/garage/feminism isn't exactly everyone's ideal mix, but this song just has a great drive and kick. The vocals sound like a 12 yr old girl shouting through a 20 dollar mic, while the accompanying music sounds like it was produced by some kind of primitive 80s computer program. In short, fantastic!

Mos Def - Mathematics
Mos is deadly on the mic, but the real winner here is the beat. Incredibly slamming bass and drums, with a meandering whirs and clicks over top.

Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes
Bowie produced and wrote this one, and it sounds like Bowie all over this song. Great sing-a-long chorus. I still think Glam Rock of the 1970s actually had a lot of good music and was not just a movement of flashy costumes and shows.

"Points the gun and he starts to figure/I'll do years if i pull this trigger" - Slick Rick